Teaching in some of Melbourne's most highly regarded secondary colleges, Anne has built a reputation as a passionate and dedicated flute teacher, with her students consistently achieving great success in Victorian Certificate of Education recitals, AMEB grade examinations and Performance Diplomas. Anne's teaching experience also includes working in the classroom at all secondary year levels and she specialises in preparing students in all aspects of VCE Music Performance; performance practise, aural training and musicianship.
Anne's private studio is currently located in Blackburn. Here, she hosts a wealth of talented young flutists, from beginners to advanced players.
Please contact Anne for details of availability and rates.
Back to Basics
Regardless of your level of playing, whether you are a beginner or professional flutist, it is important to keep in touch with where things originate.
So, let’s take things back a step or two. Back to basics. What are the basics I hear you ask?
For me, the fundamental mechanics of flute playing fall into just a couple of categories. And it is from these fundamentals that everything is built! Just like building a house, if the foundation is strong and secure, the house will be solid and stable, ready to support the building of a great flutist!
First and foremost there’s tone! The essence of all things music! If it doesn’t sound good, no-one will want to listen will they?! It is really important to determine your own concept of what is a good tone. What is the quality of sound that you want to produce? My advice? Listen, listen and listen to great flute players. Let them be a reference point for what you want to achieve. Once you have your concept sorted and are able to produce that basic, desirable tone quality, then you have the core from which to develop a multitude of different qualities or colours. Return often to this tone and develop exercises as part of your warm up that incorporate this fundamental tone production. Play long tones. Play more long tones. And then try some more long tones. Use a consistent, supported air stream. Begin with a note you find ‘easy’ to focus. And when changing notes, make the transition flawless; air and fingers working in perfect accord.
Of course, a good tone is also enhanced by a good quality instrument that is working properly! But that’s another story for another time!
And when you’re playing music, of course you’ve got to be able to play the notes, so technique plays a major role in music making. And the first step to developing a great technique is to ensure that you are holding the flute correctly!
Check your hand position. Is the way you hold your flute inhibiting your finger dexterity? Is your flute correctly balanced? The chin, left index finger and right thumb provide the perfect (and correct!) balance for holding the flute. This three-point balance provides stability and freedom to move the fingers without restriction. I found a great article highlighting the intelligence behind this three-point hand position – well worth a read to understand the logic!
Correct hand position is a particular problem with the right hand. Is the thumb in the correct position? Are the fingers sitting nicely above the keys rather than flopping over the front edge? Do your fingers have the freedom to move fluently and unrestricted? All of these issues can impede the development of a fluent technique, so teachers, be strict! Encourage an excellent hand position right from the beginning. Keep in mind that bad habits are hard to break, so don’t allow your students to develop bad habits in the first place! And if the correct hand position is difficult for you or your students, consider employing the help of a Thumbport – a great little device you attach to your flute to establish and maintain both your right hand thumb (Thumbport) and left hand index finger (Fingerport or Pinkieport)
Like to try a Thumbport? Just contact me as they are available through Flutes and Flutists!
So it’s been a while since my last entry – no excuses, just getting back into the swing of things! The start of a new teaching year certainly brings about a whole multitude of challenges! If you’re anything like me, you have had a break from playing and teaching. The new year begins and the first question I ask myself is ‘Where did I leave my flute?’
And a period of re-acquaintance begins! Finding my sound, developing a flexible embouchure and re-visiting the good old T&G to get my fingers back on track! I actually enjoy this time because it gives me the opportunity to re-assess the things that I just take for granted when I play. It’s a time to re-establish my own foundations and fall in love again with the instrument and the music!
And then the teaching begins! Re-scheduling students in my private studio and trying to fit students in for lessons amongst ballet, swimming and the multitude of activities young people are participating in. Re-assessing where each student is at during their first lesson. Many have done a lot of work during the holidays. Some have done none!
Re-establishing and developing a plan of attack! I believe an idea of where each student is headed is imperative. It is important to have goals, something to work towards, a means to an end! This in many ways can give lessons a focus and help drive the student to work and enjoy the challenge put before them. The best plan is one that is individually structured to meet the capabilities of each individual student. It is a plan that is developed to allow the student to be challenged, to take risks and to ultimately succeed in the endeavour put before them. In educational terms, this is known as personalising the learning! And in this plan, I always think it is important to remember that flute and music may not necessarily be the one and only aspect of a student’s life.
Balance is essential for young musicians in their learning. And also for a teacher in maintaining their sanity!!
Teaching in schools often means teaching in group lessons. I’m no exception to this, and at the start of each new academic year, I am presented with the task of grouping like students and commencing group lessons with up to 12 new students who perhaps don’t even know which end of the flute to blow in to!
So let’s get those new students started!
Importantly, I think every new student should leave their first lesson being able to play something – anything really, but they need to be able to play something! This ranges from a simple song using B, A & G to just getting a sound out of the headjoint and sliding their finger in and out the end to make a fun, whistle like sound! Some students are naturally able to get a great sound from the outset, others take more time, so this will have an effect on what they leave their first lesson being able to do. Each student is different and should be encouraged to accomplish something in their first lesson – it will give them an amazing sense of achievement to take some ‘music’ home with them!
Getting that first sound can be difficult for the beginning flutist. Unlike other wind instruments, we don’t have the luxury of a reed or mouthpiece that shapes our embouchure and focuses the direction of the air. We have to guide the air ourselves, finding the optimum position for the lip plate and directing the air without any physical guide to help us do so! To add to this, we also do not have the luxury of being able to see our fingers in front of us like other wind instruments. This in itself can be quite disconcerting, but actually helps enhance finger independence in the long run!
I like to have new students practise their fingering patterns in front of them, flute held vertically, watching their fingers and learning through both visual and sensory experiences.
Some essentials for beginning flutists:
A good quality instrument – see the options available for the beginning flutist at www.flutesandflutists.com and have a read of the article www.flutesandflutists.com/sound_advice which answers some questions about choosing the right flute for your students!
A mirror – this helps students to place the lip plate in the correct position and gives them a visual as well as a sensory guide to correct placement.
Lots of air!
Lots of patience and a good sense of humor!
So, stay tuned as I journal the first few lessons with my new students of 2016!